The nursing home is approximately ninety miles from my home in Durham, North Carolina. For the past six years, I have visited him every Sunday. He likes Sundays. I take him to see my mother, who has been bedridden for the past eight years. If you did not know him before the disability, it would be difficult to detect how the stroke has changed him. Order and consistency are important to him now. He calls me every Wednesday at approximately 7:30 p.m. We talk for a few minutes about sports or politics, but he always wants to know how I am doing. And he always encourages me, and asks me to be careful.
Today, my father and I are closer than ever before. His motivation and determination are inspiring. He lives life to its fullest in spite of his disability. He often talks of his life now by using the words of Apostle Paul, who wrote, "I have learned, in whatever state I am, therefore to be content." I get up early on Sunday morning in anticipation of my weekly pilgrimage to Mary Gran Nursing Center. It is not a job, a chore, or an inconvenience; it is very simply an act of love. When I was a baby and could not walk, my parents carried me; when I could not eat, they fed me; when I could not put on my clothes, they put them on for me. The very least I can do for them during this time is to return their love.
Excerpted from Keeping the Faith by Tavis Smiley, Copyright 2002, Doubleday.